Has your vehicle been experiencing a pesky vibration at highway speeds? Has there been a continuous shimmy in your steering wheel? Have the local mechanics been unable to correct the problem even after multiple attempts at tire rebalancing? If the answer to any of these questions is YES, then we have some good news. These issues CAN actually be corrected (in most cases) through Road Force Balancing! Let’s take a minute to explain some of the causes of vehicle vibration to give you a better understanding of Road Force Balancing, how it works and who can benefit from it.
CAUSES OF VEHICLE VIBRATION
Vehicle vibrations can occur for a myriad of reasons. Some vibrations can be caused by normal vehicle operation (engine, transmission etc.) and others can be due to abnormal conditions in tires, wheels etc. The following factors can lead to vibration in a tire and rim assembly:
- Weight imbalance
- Bent rim (out of round)
- Out of round tire
- Force variation of the tire (caused by inconsistent sidewall stiffness)
- Suspension wear or failure
- Brake wear or failure
- Out of alignment
- Wheel bearing issues
Weight imbalance is most evident when a new tire is installed on a wheel. Since neither the tire nor the wheel are perfectly round, the chances of this new assembly having precise weight distribution about its radial and lateral center are virtually impossible. There are two types of tire imbalance – static or dynamic. Static imbalance causes a tire and wheel assembly to move up and down whereas a dynamic imbalance causes the assembly to wobble from side to side. Most tire balancing equipment in the marketplace today can diagnose such imbalance and correct weight imbalance issues through dynamic (also known as spin) balancing. However, out of round rim or tire issues and problems related to force variation of the tire can’t be diagnosed as easily by everyday tire balancing equipment.
ROAD FORCE BALANCING
To accurately diagnose and resolve vibration problems unrelated to weight imbalance, most high-end dealerships—and AutoSquad—use Hunter Engineering’s GSP9700 Vibration Control System and its exclusive Road Force Balancing Technology. The Road Force analyzer can “test drive” your tires before they ever hit the road. A load-roller exerts up to 1400 pounds of force against the rotating tire and wheel assembly, which enables the equipment to seek out inconsistencies in the stiffness of the tire while also measuring wheel and tire run-out. The roller measures the run-out of the assembly under load and automatically recommends the necessary corrections. The GSP9700 is also capable of diagnosing and recommending solutions for weight imbalance.
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM ROAD FORCE BALANCING?
To be honest, all vehicle owners can benefit from road force balancing. It is always helpful to “test drive” the tires before the vehicle gets on the road. This enables the technician to proactively resolve potential tire/wheel vibration problems that a driver may encounter in the future. That said, we would like to emphasize that Road Force Balancing is especially beneficial for individuals who drive high-performance vehicles with low-profile tires (45- series and lower). This is simply because the less rubber between the rim and the road, the more you tend to feel the subtle sidewall stiffness differences on ride quality. If the stiffness is within the correctable range, the GSP9700 helps the technician match the lowest spot on the wheel to the highest point of the tire. This optimal positioning of the tire on the wheel helps maximize ride quality by minimizing the effects of rim variation and tire force run out.
Balancing with road force technology is considered to be “best in class.” In fact, some tire manufacturers use this technology at their production facilities to test newly produced tires prior to shipping them to retailers. This is why AutoSquad recommends and offers Road Force Balancing as an option to all our customers.